Are we getting meaner?

6 October 2009
12:10 am

internetargumentA post last week on MMOCrunch seems rather hand-in-hand with my entry last week about Love. In the entry, the author ruminates on his experiences in gaming communities and comes away with the feeling that, compared to five years ago, people in MMOGs and online games have gotten a lot more negative.

While I agree with him superficially, I don't think it's time to sing the death chimes for politeness and manners online. I think one of the comments on the entry nails the true issue behind this perception: compared to five years ago, MMOGs and gaming in general were not as mainstream as they are today. It's not so much that the collective has gotten more ill mannered over time, and the subset tending towards being rude bring their bad manners with them.

I also can't find myself agreeing with one of the last statements in the entry:

Regardless of the reasons, we aren't doing ourselves any favors with our posting habits. MMOs are still made or broken based on their community and the forum is one of the most visible representations of that community.

In my experience, the forums are actually only ever monitored by a particularly vocal minority of any online community. They're hardly even read by most players, much less participated on by them, so the idea that bad seeds ruining the forum experience will spell the doom of a MMOG is a bit off to me. And with most players plowing through MMOGs like single player games with multiplayer, social elements (and a host of tools built-in to facilitate everything from ignoring one player or the entirety of simultaneous gamers) I don't think the community makes as much of a difference towards success as a compelling playing experience will.

Nevertheless, I offer the question to the readers: do you feel like we've gotten more acerbic and rude to one another and developers, or is this just to be expected as our particular hobby sucks in users in the multiplying millions?

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